BBC BLOGS - Ollie Williams

Archives for May 2010

Blunder bus: how Dorset shooting range became target of Indian ire

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Ollie Williams | 09:46 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

Think of the quiet life and you may not pick the Shotgun World Cup as a likely setting. But you would at least expect a minority sport, in a corner of Dorset, to be free from international incident, wouldn't you?

Not so. Over the weekend, the Southern Counties Shooting Ground became a diplomatic battleground - unfortunate for an event, one of 64 supported by UK Sport during the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, which was supposed to persuade the world's top shooters to train there ahead of the Games

The row erupted when members of the Indian team complained of "harassment" from British bus drivers ferrying competitors to and from the venue.

A lengthy political narrative ensued, involving India's sports minister, the Indian High Commission in London, and wildly differing versions of what some might call relatively trivial events. While this played out, British shooters like Richard Faulds and Peter Wilson desperately tried to concentrate on the task at hand: their double-trap final.

The story has been prominently displayed on the front pages of Indian news websites, shocked at the perceived insult to their national team. Organisers of the event - the first of its kind to be held in the United Kingdom - can scarcely believe this has occurred, but now say they are learning important lessons ahead of London 2012.

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Why are Britain's gymnasts suddenly so good?

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Ollie Williams | 17:49 UK time, Sunday, 2 May 2010

"Another day at the office," declared breezy British gymnast Niamh Rippin, team silver medal around her neck and tongue firmly in cheek, as hundreds of fans greeted her outside Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on Saturday.

But it really isn't. British gymnasts have never had days like these.

The GB team are leaving the European Championships with a total of 15 medals (senior boys: team silver, individual gold, silver and bronze; junior boys: team gold, four individual golds, a silver and two bronze; senior girls: team silver, two individual golds).

That total is unprecedented, particularly the success of both the junior and senior men's teams, who have for decades toiled in the lower echelons of world gymnastics.

Why, though, is this all happening now? Who has flicked a switch to turn Britain from a gymnastics also-ran to a world power with an eye on medals at a home Olympics? Is it all down to money?

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